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Detecting plagiarism with Turnitin

Published on
August 22, 2022

When writing course assignments, students may (accidentally) plagiarize the work of others. To check the originality of submitted work, teachers at WUR can use Turnitin. At the start of a new academic year, a recap of how to use Turnitin is useful.

How it works

Teachers can activate Turnitin for any assignment in Brightspace. Turnitin compares a student’s submission many articles and websites freely available on the internet. It also compares the submission to all Library subscribed resources and to other students work, both in and outside of the course.

Similarity report

Once the comparison is done, Turnitin generates a similarity report. The similarity score indicates how similar the text is to other sources. The report clearly shows where certain parts of the text are similar to existing sources. You can then click through to this original source. In this way, you can judge for yourself if the flagged sentence was copied or is simply a common way of phrasing something.

Turnitin also recognizes sentences with slightly different words than the original sentence. The program is also capable of highligthing sentences that may have a few words changed around. In short, Turnitin spots plagriarism that a student may have attempted to hide with a few strategic uses of a thesaurus.

How to run Turnitin

When creating a new assignment in Brightspace (or editing an existing one), you can switch on Turnitin under the header “Evaluation & Feedback” on the righthand side of the screen. There you can click on “Manage Turnitin” at the bottom of the list. Next, you can check “Enable Similarity Report for this folder” and click Save to activate Turnitin.

Sometimes, you’ll have to click a button next to an individual submission as well to start the similarity check. But the Turnitin check takes only a few minutes to finish. Moreover it runs in the background, so you can grade the assignment while waiting for the program to finish.

More information and contact

If you’d like to know more about working with Turnitin, you can find information on Brightspace for Lecturers. If you’d like to use Turnitin as a personal plagiarism check for you work or that of a student writing a thesis, you can use your Brightspace practice course and a dummy assignment to run Turnitin on. If you have questions, please contact the Turnitin team on Intranet.